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3MPower (Mobile Learning for Empowerment of Marginalised Mathematics Educators)

Principal Investigator:  Tom Power
Co-investigators: Prof. S M Hafizur Rahman, Prof. Nure Alam Siddique (Dhaka University); Prof. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Prof Jacqueline StevensonDr. Saraswati Dawadi (The Open University), Claire Hedges
Consortium Partners: Institute of Education and Research, Dhaka University
Focus Country: Bangladesh 
Dates: December 2021 - ongoing

Worldwide, many children reach the end of primary education without being confident in foundation numeracy skills. Children from lower-income households and marginalised communities, particularly girls and those in rural communities and ethnic and linguistic minorities, are most affected. Weak foundation skills hinder future learning and children often fall further behind each year. The use of e-learning solutions for teacher development has gained traction in recent years. However, little research has been done into how these solutions are working on the ground for teachers and learners in marginalised communities, or into the impact they are having on teaching quality and learning outcomes. 

In Bangladesh comprehensive efforts are being put in place to enhance Maths teaching practice, including through teacher professional development courses on Muktopaath - a government-led e-Learning platform used by 400,000 teachers. The 3MPower project is exploring how primary teachers in marginalised rural schools are engaging with the most popular course, Anonde Gonit Shikhi (AGS) (“Let's learn Maths with fun”), and whether this engagement is helping them improve the teaching and learning of foundation skills in numeracy. 

Funded by The EdTech Hub, 3MPower is a research collaboration between The Open University and the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, working in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh and teachers in rural communities and schools.

Our research questions are:

  • How are primary teachers from rural schools in Bangladesh using mobile learning for their professional development?
  • In what ways is this changing the learning and teaching of foundation skills in numeracy?

The first round of studies explored the processes of teacher development, including teachers’ access to mobile learning, the relevance of the content to teachers’ needs, how school communities support changes in teaching, and the cost-effectiveness of these approaches. Working with early career researchers from Dhaka University as well as peer to peer-research by rural teachers, we completed over 500 interviews with teachers and collated survey responses from over 1100 teachers, all working in rural and remote schools across 10 different upazilas (regions).

The second round of research explored the outcomes of the professional development programme, on teaching practices and student learning outcomes in numeracy, using mixed methods. For this phase we completed over 200 classroom observations, 2000 assessments of children’s numeracy levels, 200 teacher surveys, and an additional 200 headteacher surveys. Insights from these are being enhanced through qualitative studies including in-depth case study research and photo-elicitation, with teachers and school leaders from ten schools.

Teaching and learning materials for foundation numeracy skills, from a rural primary school in BangladeshThese studies aim to explore how contextual factors have contributed to the effective adoption of AGS activities in some schools. The case studies comprise interviews with teachers and headteachers, qualitative observations of classroom practice, guided ‘walk arounds’ of school premises, and photo elicitation interviews - using photographs taken by teachers to explore how they are incorporating AGS in their classroom over time.

We are now in the process of exploring the evidence and insights gathered from this research with policymakers and practitioners, to improve the effectiveness of future mobile learning courses for teacher professional development, in Bangladesh and worldwide.

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